We often speak about health care surrogate, powers of attorney and other probate and estate administration matters on this blog. Indeed, last week, we spoke about this very topic, senior healthcare options. And, this week, we will explore more information about these senior healthcare options.
Is an advance directive required by Florida law?
No. Bluntly, no one is required to do anything before they day, other than pay taxes, of course. Though, without some advance directive or power of attorney, every decision about one’s healthcare will be decided by someone else. And, while this could be a spouse, it may also be any court-appointed guardian, who may not know what we want.
Helping them make decisions
Just creating a basic advance directive or power of attorney may not be enough though. Think about the weight of the pressure to make life-and-death decisions for a loved one. This is why we really should outline what we want when it comes to medical care and end-of-life decisions. Be specific. Take as much stress out of the situation as possible. And, do not forget to discuss these wishes and the fact that one is empowered to make sure those decision are followed. The first time someone hears about those wishes should not be when a court or medical provider is calling that person.
Is an attorney required?
As with most legal topics, while one does not necessarily need a lawyer, one is always recommended. Though, the basics of enforceability in Florida are that the advance directive needs to be witnessed by two people, one of which cannot be a blood relative or spouse. This means that, technically, it could be done orally, but a written document is always recommended.
What about forms?
Of course, one’s estate planning attorney will handle these items, but if one is trying to figure it out on their own, Florida does provide basic sample forms. These forms include anatomical donations, health care surrogates and even living wills. And, of course, none of these documents are set in stone. Each Tampa, Florida, form can be changed or canceled at any time, but any change should be in writing, dated, witnessed and signed.